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How to Construct the Four Pillars

Today, let’s delve into the content of constructing the Four Pillars of Destiny, which involves converting our birthdays into the Jia Zi calendar system.

How do we convert our commonly used dates into Jia Zi calendar dates? Let’s calculate each pillar step by step. Before constructing the Four Pillars, it’s essential to memorize the order of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches. The order of Heavenly Stems is: Jia, Yi, Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, Gui. The order of Earthly Branches is: Zi (Rat), Chou (Ox), Yin (Tiger), Mao (Rabbit), Chen (Dragon), Si (Snake), Wu (Horse), Wei (Goat), Shen (Monkey), You (Rooster), Xu (Dog), Hai (Pig).

  1. Constructing the Year Pillar.

There are four methods for determining the Year Pillar: 1. Using perpetual calendars or online queries; 2. Finger counting; 3. Calculating based on patterns.

  1. Perpetual calendars and online queries. In this information age, there’s no need to flip through a physical calendar since various perpetual calendars and Bazi query systems are available online. However, it’s important to note that these resources often use the Chinese New Year as the year’s boundary, which can lead to errors, especially in calculating the Month Pillar. Many beginners cannot differentiate them correctly.

For calculating the Year Pillar, we do not use the Chinese New Year as the boundary but the Start of Spring instead. The day before the Start of Spring is considered the previous year, and the day after is the next year. The exact time of the Start of Spring is listed in detailed perpetual calendars. So, if using an online system to construct your Bazi, pay attention to the time of the Start of Spring. If you were born before the Start of Spring, your Year Pillar would belong to the previous year.

  1. Finger Counting.

Many fortune tellers can predict the past and future by finger counting, which is mostly used for calculating Bazi. However, this method is somewhat outdated and inefficient for modern times, and it’s more of a trick than a practical tool. Nonetheless, if you’re interested, I can introduce a simple method for calculating the Year Pillar by finger counting. Further reading: Finger Counting for Determining the Year Pillar.

  1. Calculating Based on Patterns.

This method is the simplest for calculating the Year Pillar and involves mastering three patterns.

The first pattern is: years ending in 4 correspond to Jia; 5 to Yi; 6 to Bing; 7 to Ding; 8 to Wu; 9 to Ji; 0 to Geng; 1 to Xin; 2 to Ren; 3 to Gui.

The second pattern, for years before 2000, is that any year whose last two digits are divisible by 12 starts with the Earthly Branch Zi (Rat). Knowing this, we can determine the Earthly Branch for any year from 1900 to 2000 by finding the nearest Zi year and then following the order of Earthly Branches.

Example: For 1980, the closest year divisible by 12 is 1984, so by reversing the order of Earthly Branches from Zi (1984), we determine that 1980 is a Geng Shen year; similarly, for 1999, the closest divisible year is 1996, leading to a Ji Mao year.

The third pattern, for years after 2000, is that years whose last two digits are divisible by 12 start with the Earthly Branch Chen (Dragon). Thus, we can determine the Earthly Branch for any year from 2000 to 2100.

Example: For 2017, the closest divisible year is 2012, leading to a Ding You year. Further reading: How to Construct the Year Pillar.

  1. Constructing the Month Pillar.

The challenge in constructing the Month Pillar lies in determining the Earthly Branch, also known as the Month Branch.

In the Jia Zi calendar, the Month Branch starts with Yin (Tiger), known as “establishing Yin in the first month.” The boundary between years is the Start of Spring, while the boundary between months is the solar term, including the 24 solar terms, comprising both “terms” and “phases.” To calculate the Month Branch, we use the terms, not the phases.

Since we base calculations on the terms, for instance, if someone is born exactly on the Grain Full term, we must consult a perpetual calendar to determine the exact time of the term change. For example, in 1995, Grain Full was on June 6th, 11:42:28. Births before this time fall in the previous month, Xin Si, and those after in Ren Wu.

After determining the Month Branch, we look at the Month Stem, which is more fixed compared to the Month Branch, as the first month starts with Yin, matching the twelve Earthly Branches with the ten Heavenly Stems in a six-year cycle.

Jia and Ji years start with Bing, Yi and Geng years with Wu, Bing and Xin years with Geng, Ding and Ren years with Ren, and Wu and Gui years begin with Jia.

For those curious about leap months, note that they are part of the lunar calendar and don’t affect the Jia Zi calendar. The division of months in the Jia Zi calendar only requires attention to the “terms.”

The Month Pillar can also be determined by finger counting, for those interested in this method: Finger Counting for Determining the Month Pillar.

  1. Constructing the Day Pillar.

The Day Pillar can be determined by a perpetual calendar, but attention must be paid to the division of time, especially for the Zi hour (11:00 PM to 1:00 AM). For births at 0:15 AM, it’s considered the early Zi hour of the next day, as Zi hour is divided into early and late parts.

  1. Constructing the Hour Pillar.

The challenge in constructing the Hour Pillar lies in determining the Hour Stem, with fixed Hour Branches:

  • 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM is Zi hour;
  • 1:00 AM to 3:00 AM is Chou hour;
  • and so on for the rest of the branches.

The Hour Stem is determined by the Day Stem, with a mnemonic for matching them.

Attention must be paid to daylight saving time, which could affect the accuracy of the Hour Pillar. In countries that adopted daylight saving time, subtract an hour to find the correct Hour Pillar. Further reading: Chapter Six: How to Construct the Day and Hour Pillars?

For those born abroad, use the local time of birth, as time reflects the relative position of the Earth and the Sun. Different locations will have different times.

Next Recommendation

  1. How to Calculate the Life Hexagram of Your Destiny
  2. People’s Na Yin Five Elements Life Hexagram Query Table
  3. The Principle of Mutual Generation and Overcoming in the Five Elements

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